In the cold winter months there is a great way to access fresh, organic greens in your own home: Sprouts. To get you started we bring you an excerpt from Sproutman, Steve Meyerowitz’s book, Sprouts: The Miracle Food.
When your teeth crush an apple, say to it in your heart: Your seeds shall live in my body, And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart, And your fragrance shall be my breath, And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons — Kahlil Gibran
Not all of us can be gardeners. But we all eat. Fact is, if you don’t grow your own, someone has to do it for you. Not a bad concept, but in reality, we’re on the losing end. A trip to the supermarket proves it. The lettuce is lifeless; the spinach is wilting and dark around the edges. You don’t dare eat the fruit for fear of fumigants, fertilizers, pesticides and the like. As a nation, we’re eating less and less of the healthiest foods on the planet — fresh fruit and vegetables. Where are the fruits and vegetables? For the most part, you’ll find them in the canned food aisle. No wonder kids grow up never liking their vegetables! Of course, you could shop at the health food store. But organic produce sometimes cost more than you want to spend — if you can find it at all. Unfortunately, we don’t all live in southern California and we don’t all have the time or means to garden.
Here’s where apartment gardening comes in. Every week a new harvest of fresh baby greens matures right in your own kitchen. No tools to buy, no big investment in garden equipment, no bugs or weather to worry about and no dirt. One pound of indoor lettuce takes up just 9 inches of counter-top space and one actual minute of care per day. Just dip and set. Light is no problem — normal daylight is all you need. For such little effort, the possibilities are magnificent — 30 delicious varieties of fresh, nutritious indoor greens and baby vegetables, enough to feed the whole family!
I REGAINED MY HEALTH WITH THIS FOOD
I got over a life-long struggle with allergies and asthma by revamping my diet. The first thing I did was eliminate the chemically tainted produce I was bringing home from the supermarket. How could anyone ever get well with invisible ingredients like DDT, EDB, Aldicarb and Chlodane hidden in their food? But it’s more than that. It’s what they don’t have…nutrition. Mass market agriculture techniques rob the soil of minerals and substitute synthetic fertilizers and hormones. Zinc, for example, is no longer adequately supplied in the U.S. diet. As a consequence, the American male suffers from the world’s highest incidence of prostate cancer and malfunction. Whatever vitamins these vegetables do have is diminished more and more with each day they sit wilting on grocery store shelves. If you had a choice, would you regularly eat food grown 3,000 miles from where you live?
MY APARTMENT GARDEN FED HUNDREDS
Since I lived in an apartment, I learned to garden indoors. Before long I as dining on crisp Chinese cabbage, luscious crimson clover, hearty sunflower, succulent buckwheat lettuce, spicy red radish, velvety kale, sweet green pea — I had so much, I fed all my friends and students. These young greens were so alive an scintillating with color and aroma, you could practically feel their vitamins! Make no mistake about it. That vitality is assimilated by you — in the form of live enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, trace minerals, RNA, DNA, oxygen and other secret elements about which only nature knows. You can’t buy that nutrition in a pill!
YOU’LL HELP OUR ENVIRONMENT, TOO
If you garden indoors, you effectively reduce your dependence on distant sources for food, energy and technology. Don’t think the greenhouse effect is just something that exists in newspapers. Global warming, air pollution, oil spills and acid rain all damage our health as a nation and directly threaten the quality and availability of our food. Drought, flood, heat wave, freeze, increase the price of food as does the rising price of gasoline that is needed to transport it. Our system of over-industrialized, long distance, imported, chemically laden, synthetically fertilized and artificially processed foods has got to stop. Either we change it or it will change us. But what can we do about it? Fortunately, you are not completely at the mercy of the giant agri-business industry. You can take steps to become more self-sufficient. Indoor gardening is your answer and it’s easier than you think.
How easy is it? The seeds do all the growing. Your only job is to water them one minute per pound per day (30 seconds in the morning, 30 seconds in evening). No weeds to weed, no pests to fence out, no bugs, no soil. It takes less time than standing on line at the supermarket! Only 5 tablespoons of seed, costing only 15-30 cents, yields a full pound of sprouted greens. Where else can you find a comparable source of fresh, nutritious food at that price? whether you live in Metropolis n the 30th floor or in Alaska, whether it’s January or July, you can have fresh food and lots of it year-round.
THE WORLD’S MOST ECONOMICAL & NUTRITIOUS FOOD
Your grains, beans, and seeds can safely store for years. So next year when the price of spinach rises to $1.40/lb., don’t worry. You’ll only be paying 20 cents/lb. for organically grown sunflower greens (more protein than spinach), or 25 cents/lb. for jumbo alfalfa greens (more chlorophyll and minerals than parsley). One pound of sprouts provides the combined nutritional advantage of thousands of baby plants. Biologists tell us that in the first 5-10 days, young plants achieve their maximum nutrient density. In other words, they are more nutritious than at any other point in their growth. These babies are literally overflowing with rapidly multiplying enzymes, vitamins, proteins and minerals needed for he development of the mature vegetable. B-Vitamins alone increase 300% to 1500% in just 3 to 6 days. Complex starches are broken down reducing cooking time and making beans and grains easier to digest. Enzymes abound!
You don’t need a laboratory to tell how nutritious these foods are. You can taste it in their flavor, smell it in their aroma and see it in their color. When was the last time an iceberg lettuce looked delicious to you? Don’t blame the poor colorless, bland iceberg. It was grown on devitalized, artificially mineralized soil worn out a hundred years ago from massive over-cropping!
All You Need To Make 1 lb of Indoor Lettuce
5 Tbsp seed (15-30 cents)
9 inches counter space
1-2 minutes watering/day
Normal indoor daylight
5-10 days till maturity
A bamboo basket and greenhouse
That’s all it takes to have something most people will covet — an alternative source of fresh food. In hard times, your sprouter and organic seeds can mean survival. In good times, you’ll thrive in gourmet style with some of the tastiest and most nutritious foods on the planet!
Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed. To you, it shall be for food.
— Genesis, 1:29
You’re in a tight spot. Inside an elevator, to be exact. The elevator is in Macy’s department store in New York City. The time: the last shopping day before Christmas. Feel like a sardine? (Apologies to vegetarians.) Let’s hope your fellow shoppers don’t decide to stretch, scratch, turn, tilt, yawn or perform any other kind of bodily expansion. You’d get seriously squooshed! Now, you know what it’s like to be a seedling growing up inside a
jar. The world is closing in around you while your whole life’s purpose is simply to seek the sun. The following pages are dedicated to the sun worshippers of the world.
Seeking the Sun
VERTICAL GERMINATION OF SEEDS
Sprouts are baby green plants. Like all helio-tropes, they follow the sun from dawn to dusk. Through the miracle of photosynthesis, they create their own food (carbohydrate) from sunlight. Jars are simply not designed to accommodate this natural growth process. Sprouters with a vertical orientation, on the other hand, work in harmony with the natural movement of green plants. They permit your sprout greens to grow like vegetables in your garden. In this book, we will be using a colander style vertical sprouter.
Borrowing from the Orient’s love of bamboo as a cooking utensil, we will use a simple, widely available bamboo basket as our sprouter in the step by step discussion of how to grow sprouted baby vegetables indoors. In this sprouter, the sprout roots support themselves by winding into the weave of the basket instead of soil. Once firmly anchored, they grow straight and stand tall. Our technique will apply to any sprouter with a vertical
orientation and ample height for growth.
Multiple harvests are possible from just one batch of seeds with your colander style vertical sprouter. How is this possible? All seedlings grow straight up, but they grow at different rates. The more mature sprouts create a shield for the others. AS the tallest sprouts are harvested, more light penetrates into the densely packed growing seeds enabling the next generation to rise and flourish.
A mature sprout releases its hull and opens like a flower. These little green plants represent the first generation. Like the folks in the crowded Macy’s elevator, once they get off, there is more space for those left behind. Now, it is the turn of the next generation of seedlings. They are smaller and a little more yellow around the collar, but after one or two days exposure to light, they will grow as green and as tall as their elders.
A skilled indoor gardner can reap two, three or more generations from one batch of seeds, depending on the variety. This means a lot more sprouts for your dollar. For example, with just 5 tablespoons of alfalfa seed (1/3 cup), you can grow over one pound of alfalfa sprouts. Five tablespoons of seeds (about 2 ounces) costs approximately 25 cents and yields 1 pound of hearty alfalfa greens. This means your sprouts cost approximately 25 cents or less per pound. With such high yield and low cost, you could share your sprouts with friends and neighbors, eat big salads everyday for lunch and diner, and still have plenty left over. Vertically grown sprouts are the healthiest of all. Multiple generation harvesting allows each seedling to develop its sun-derived chlorophyll and reach its nutritional peak. Look at your sprouts closely. If you examine them, you can identify this peak time according to when it throws off its hull and divides into its first pair of leaves.
WHY NOT A JAR?
Sprouts have never been much of a political issue, but the vertical method of sprouting is truly democratic. In it, every sprout has an equal opportunity to get his or her time in the sun. Jars, unfortunately, cannot make the same offer. Instead, jars hold the sprouts captive and subject them to dark, crowded conditions. Sprouts come out twisted and confused! It is a tough life for a young sprout growing up in a jar. Only the ambitious ones make it to the jar edge where they finally get some sun. The rest live in the center where they are shielded from the sun and get little or no light at all. This is called the tunnel effect. When you reach in to harvest your sprouts, you cannot avoid pulling out those that are immature, yellow from lack of light and surrounded by their brown hulls. To make matters worse, consumers tend to fill their jars with too much seed. This forces the sprouts to survive in severely overcrowded conditions. It cuts down on their air ventilation, reduces drainage and can lead to overheating and rot. It also creates internal jar pressure which prevents the sprouts from developing to their full length. Sanitation problems abound because in such tight spaces, there is no room for the fallen seed jackets or hulls to go.
Jar sprouts are usually short, twisted, yellow and full of hulls. They multiply an average of 7 to 8 times their volume. Vertically grown sprouts, on the other hand are always clean, green, tall and naturally good looking.
they can increase from 12 to 15 times their size.
Originally, all of us sproutarians started out growing beans in a jar. But when you start getting serious about your sprouting, the limitations of the jar quickly become apparent. Jars breathe and drain only through their
mouth. They must be tilted at an angle to make sure they won’t collect water, but in that process the beans clog the mouth limiting the entrance of air. Jars require a lot of handling — filling, draining, tilting — and once you start sprouting lots of varieties, are very space intensive in the kitchen and refrigerator.
Vertical sprouters grow the seedlings the way vegetables grow in the garden. Each seed gets proper exposure to light and air. The seed hulls that are normally trapped inside a jar are free to fall off naturally. This makes
less cleaning work for you, and the growing sprouts are free of this dead matter which can cause rot. Some of the hulls are heavy, such as sunflower shells, which become entangled in the mass of roots making the whole lot inedible. Other varieties are 4-6 inches tall and even if they could grow in a jar, would not fit. While jars are okay for basic bean sprouting, they were never intended for the more sophisticated indoor gardening of salad greens.
ADVANTAGES OF A VERTICAL SPROUTER
1) Allows for the natural vertical growth of plants just like in a vegetable garden.
2) Provides a greater surface area exposing more sprouts to sunlight.
3) Yields a higher volume of sprouts.
4) Allows all sprouts to reach their nutritional peak
5) Has its own drainage system, avoiding screens, cheese cloth, rubberband, etc.
6) Allows faster, easier rinsing and cleaning of seed hulls.
7) Never needs soil.
8) Adds beauty to your kitchen and entire house
CREATE YOUR OWN SPROUTER
Gather your high germination sprouting seeds, a 16 or 32 ounce jar and obtain or devise your own vertical sprouter. You can make your own Indoor Vegetable Kit or vertical sprouter using a plastic colander or a natural
bamboo basket. Make sure the openings in the basket are small enough to prevent the leakage of tiny seeds. If using bamboo, choose an unpeeled fiber. The skin of the bamboo acts like a natural lacquer resisting the
absorption of water. This results in better resistance to fungus growth.
Choose a basket that has 2 inch sidewalls. Baskets are made from many different fibers. Make sure you have chosen bamboo.
A greenhouse can be made from anything that will hold in moisture and heat while allowing heat penetration and air circulation. With some caveats, even a simple plastic bag will do. House your colander inside a plastic tent.
Elevate the colander so it does not touch the floor or the walls for best air circulation. Good air circulation resists mold and fungus growth.
5 Easy Steps to Health
GREEN THUMB NOT REQUIRED
1. Soak your seeds overnight in a 16-32 ounce jar of pure water.
2. Pour seeds into bottom of basket sprouter
3. Rinse vigorously for 30 seconds with a sink sprayer moving evenly over the seeds.
4. Place basket in greenhouse tent with ample air above seeds.
5. Repeat 30 second rinsing twice daily, about 12 hours apart. Takes only 1 minute per day.
WASH SEEDS AND BASKETS
First wash all your baskets by boiling them for only 3 minutes in hot water. Boiling sterilizes the natural fibers which are untreated, unfumigated and unshellacked. Rinse your seeds clean, too. These special organically grown and chemical-free seeds may contain small amounts of soil or foreign matter. Rinse well and, if necessary, pick clean.
Next, open a package of seeds (we recommend clover for starters) and pour 5 rounded tablespoons into a clean pint jar; fill 3/4 of the jar with pure, cold water. Stir, then let sit for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
After soaking, pour the seeds directly onto the floor of the 8 inch basket. Rinse them clean and let the spray of the water spread the seeds evenly on the floor of the basket. Insert the basket into the plastic greenhouse tent. Remove it from the greenhouse twice each day for rinsing. It’s that easy! Now, the proper way to rinse.
HOW TO RINSE
Rinse the seeds with cold water using the flexible spray hose attached to your sink. If you do not have such a hose built in, purchase a spray adapter which easily connects to the end of your faucet. Faucet spray adapters are available at housewares stores.
Shower your seeds as well as the basket walls and rims with good water pressure. Good rinsing with strong water pressure washes away the fungi that cause mold and mildew. After 2-3 days, most seeds send out roots and attempt to anchor into the basket weave. Shower the seeds evenly trying not to dislodge them in their effort to root. Leave the bed of seeds even and level. Wash for approximately 10 seconds, twice daily and no more than 12 hours apart.
THREE METHODS OF RINSING
1) Hosing. The first method, described earlier hoses the seeds with lots of water pressure from your hose sprayer or faucet spray adapter. This is the only way to rinse during the first four days of growth until the roots
anchor into the basket weave.
A shower nozzle, much like the one in your shower, performs best because it waters the seeds evenly without disturbing their orientation. Some sinks have a sprayer hose built in for doing dishes. If you do not have a shower head on your faucet, you can obtain a faucet adapter from any hardware or housewares store. Rubbermaid makes a non-permanent adapter called the Faucet Queen that attaches to your faucet end. Although the name may be somewhat quizzical, the function is one of converting the jet of water into a shower spray. And, with the simple turn of a valve, your faucet returns to normal again. This small $3-$5 item is available in most stores where housewares are sold. The sprouts prefer the even rinsing of a shower to the harsh drilling of a faucet. Please do not confuse a shower spray with a mister or atomizer. Misters do not supply enough force for an efficient rinse. One more point, when rinsing, you will notice that the water moves the seeds around. This is normal for the first two or three days but after that, try not to disturb the organization of the sprouts so that their roots may anchor into the basket. Anchoring is necessary for cleaning the sprouts vertical growth, and as we shall see later, for cleaning the hulls. In case you were wondering, yes, you can use your shower itself. Sprouts like it in the bathroom because it is the most humid room in the house and is often a few degrees cooler in the hot weather. Simply run the basket under the shoer and set it aside to drain. You may close the curtain if your sprouts happen to be shy. Actually, the curtain keeps in the humidity and creates a greenhouse effect.
2) Immersion. This method is faster and easier than hosing but is only possible when the sprouts have anchored their roots into the basket. This usually occurs after 4 days of growth. First, fill your sink, bowl or pot
with pure water, then dip in the entire basket for a total bath. Let the sprouts soak for at least 10 seconds, then drain and set in the greenhouse. Make sure your sprouts are securely anchored into the basket before
immersing. Check the underside of the basket for lots of rootless showing through the weave.
Water temperature and water purity are important. The water temperature should vary according to season. In hot weather, it could be cold to cool the sprouts down. In cold weather, it could be warm to warm them up. Never use hot water which can reduce germination. Use lukewarm or tepid water.
3) Inversion. Hang on sprouts! Once your sprouts are securely anchored you can even turn the basket upside down! Nothing will fall out except old seed hulls. Hulls are dead matter that decay promoting root rot and mold.
Eliminating these hulls will keep your sprouts healthy and delicious. Fresh hulls, by the way, are simple vegetable fiber similar to bran. Although they can detract from the flavor of the sprouts, they are not harmful to eat. The inversion method is the fastest, most thorough method for rinsing away the hulls.
Biogenic means life-generating. Biogenic foods are germinated seeds, whole grains, nuts, legumes, and tender baby greens which have the biochemical capacity to mobilize their dormant life forces and thus create and generate new life.
Their Tastes and Growing Times
Seeds are just as different as people. Some are easy, some are tough. Some are fast, some are slow. Know your seeds and your sprouting days will be healthier and happier. Here’s a list of some of their characteristics with apologies to Mother nature.
Black Oil Sunflower. The biggest of the bunch. A towering blossom of health. Four percent protein — more than spinach! Takes approximately 10 days to mature. With the black oil sprouting variety, 99% of the shells fall off naturally. Has a tremendous appetite for water. The shells themselves (not the seeds) are prone to fungus. Rinse thoroughly twice per day (don’t miss) with plenty of water pressure and leave plenty of air in the greenhouse tent. Remove them with a fork and flush the area clean. Sunflower — can you guess — likes the sun. Just make sure they do not get too hot. Plenty of rinsing cools them and helps the shells slip off. Basket method.
Radish. Watch out. This is a hot one and can bite! Respect your radish and it will provide many happy meals for you. Takes 5-6 days to mature. Shells fall off easily. A white fur is common to see growing during early growth. This indicates watering is not adequate either in terms of pressure, volume or frequency. The white fur is harmless and easily rinsed away. Don’t let it go too far or it could lead to mold. China Rose Radish is the best sprouting variety. It has beautiful colored leaves and red stalks. Radish will clear clogged sinuses and chest. Great to mix with milder varieties. Basket method.
Cabbage. A little guy with a light green complexion and a notch at the top of the head. Takes 5 days to mature. Because of its small size, Cabbage fins it more difficult to root into the basket weaves than other sprouts. Try not to disturb the seeds’ orientation during days 2-4. This is the critical period when it attempts to root. Once they root, they are rather tight fisted and unlike the others, need to be yanked out in lumps. Lots of seeds remain on the bottom. The seed jackets can mold, so rinse them out and rinse the harvested sprouts as well. Basket method.
Turnip, rutabaga, kale, and rapeseed are exotic members of the cabbage family. Black mustard looks like the cabbage family but is much hotter. These are delicious sprouts especially if you like cabbage, but they are hard to find. 5-6 days maturity. Basket method.
Alfalfa. The most famous sprout and a celebrity to whom all others owe a debt of gratitude. Alfalfa gets its name from the Arabic “alf-al-fa,” father of all foods. One of the richest sources of chlorophyll and magnesium as witnessed by its green color. Mild tasting. It holds on to its seed jackets tightly and matures in 7 days when 90% of them have fallen. Rinsing in the inverted position successfully eliminates most hulls. Sensitive to hot temperatures and direct sunshine. Alfalfa will decay if it gets too hot indicated by a softening (mushiness) of the stalk and an ammonia smell. Avoid this during hot weather by rinsing more often and with cold water Keep in a shady spot. Basket method.
Red Clover. A cousin of alfalfa, considers itself the prettiest of all sprouts and whether or not you agree, it is certainly one of the fastest and easiest to grow. It matures in only 6 days. Although it is not quite as tall as Alfalfa, it has a sharper flavor, a larger leaf, and a lighter green complexion. It surrenders its hulls easily making it the simplest of sprouts to clean. Don’t miss this grand lady. Basket method.
Crimson Clover. There are many kinds of clover but crimson has the largest leaf. A cousin of alfalfa, it has all the same characteristics especially regarding hot temperature. It is even more sensitive to heat than alfalfa. It relieves its seed jackets or hulls readily — more than any other seed, providing a clean, green salad free of hulls. This clover is related to the famous 4-leaf clover and other clovers blooming on your lawn in spring. Basket method.
Buckwheat. Buckwheat is actually not a wheat at all but an herb, which is good news to those of you with wheat allergies. It is quite big — 4-5 inches tall and rich in B-vitamin factors like choline and inositol. Buckwheat takes approximately 10 days to mature and is ready when 90% of its hulls have fallen off. You’ll never get 100% hull removal so don’t try because the seeds ripen at different rates. Harvest by yanking out a 1 inch handful and either washing or cutting off the hulls at the roots. Because the hulls are so large, they can develop fungus. Take special care washing the buckwheat seeds during the rooting stage (first 5-6 days). Good thorough washing of the seeds and the baskets eliminates mold. Buckwheat needs light, warmth and moisture in order to maximize hull drop-off. Basket method.
Garlic & Onion Chives. The healthiest form of these vegetables is the young plant. These healing foods ar easier to digest and rich in chorophyll at this early stage of their development and they possess all the mysterious cell factors that make these foods famous in folklore and herbal medicine. Chlorophyll neutralizes the famous odor. The young chives take 14 days to mature. The black seed jackets hang on tenaciously. Surrender to them, they are okay to eat. Be patient. You may not see any sign of growth for 7 days. This is normal. Garlic and onion resist all fungus growth — wouldn’t you know it! Basket method.
China Red Pea. This bean makes pea greens 4-6 inches tall! Lots of fiber in the stalks, mild taste. Take care to let the roots anchor in the basket. As your crop matures, wash away fallen bean husks and seed matter which are prone to decay. Cousin of mung. Matures in 8-10 days. Can also be sprouted in bag for 3-4 days.
Kamut Egyptian Wheat. A high protein (18%), big brother of American wheat (12%). It’s delicious. Takes 3-4 days in the sprout bag for the shoots to grow to half the size of the berry. This is the right length for making a delicious sprout bread. Shake the grains within the bag to keep them from rooting into the fabric walls.
Soft White Wheat. This whole grain has no relation to white flour. The term “white” refers to its golden color. This grain has less protein and gluten than regular wheat and is used for pastry flour in the baking trade. Sprout it in the sprout bag for two days to make sprout crackers and cookies or 3-4 days for snacks. Great mixed with raisins.
Shelled “Silver” Sunflower. This is the standard sunflower with the shell removed. Grow this sunflower in the sprout bag for only 2 days. Because there is no shell cover, the air will oxidize the seeds turning the m brown in color much like a half-eaten apple turns brown after a minute. There is no harm. Refrigerate the sprout after 2 days growth. Enjoy in salads or as a snack. Great with raisins.
Lentil & Green Pea. Easy to grow beans taking 5 days in the sprout bag. The pea is still a raw bean and needs cooking or steaming for consumption in any volume.
Sproutable Barley. This is a special hybrid variety of barley that is grown without the usual heavy husk on it. Often, when the husk is removed, the germination is damaged and may be as low as 80%. You can use barley for making sprout bread just like wheat. Sprouted barley is famous for making barley malt, the sweetener developed as the sprout converts its starch into grain sugar (maltose). The bread is delicious and “meaty” and can serve as a vegetarian “meat loaf” substitute. Since we cannot eat whole barley because of its heavy husk, this barley is a welcome alternative. However, it is rare and hard to find. Sprout bag.
Mung & Adzuki. These small beans take only 5 days to grow in the sprout bag. They are Chinese cousins. Mung requires a little extra work removing the seed jackets although the jackets are harmless and a good source of fiber. Empty your mung into a sink or pot full of water and skim off the green hulls as they float to the top. Mung is also famous for an occasional hard seed which won’t sprout and, regrettably, feels like a pebble in your mouth. Sprout bag.
Fenugreek. One of the tallest and greenest sprouts. A bitter herb. For best flavor, always mix with alfalfa and clover. Fenugreek is easy to grow and mature in 8-9 days. Excellent for soothing the digestive track. Does best in cool temperatures, below 75 degrees (Fahrenheit). It blends excellently with the other sprouts. Basket or sprout bag.
Wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is the 12-14 day wheat sprout that resembles the grass in your backyard. The grass is not eaten in salads because it is too fibrous to swallow. Although cows and horses do a fine job on grass, humans don’t have the stomach for it. Instead, the grass is grown for its juice. Soil method.
Gelatinous Seeds. Chia, Glax, and Psyllium are all gelatinous seeds which create a small amount of pretty greens cherished more for their ornamental beauty than for their contribution to your salad. As a group, they mature in approximately two weeks (14 days) and are spicy, bitter and mild tasting respectively.
GROWING GARLIC & ONION
Garlic chives and French onion are very special seeds and they require a special sprouting effort. They are the most expensive seeds in our sprouting repertoire and also have the longest growth period — about two weeks. But they are also the most flavorful and among the most popular.
Worth The Wait? Most garlic/onion lovers say, Yes! The health value of these two herbs is widely proclaimed. Garlic’s reputation is well documented in history. The history books are full of people wearing garlic to ward off evil spirits and treat the common cold. Onion was used to soothe a throbbing earache and heal a bruise. We have lost touch with these potent herbs and are just starting to rediscover their healing value. Now we have them bottled and encapsulated and we separate out the odor. Much advertising hype is heaped on the public by supplement manufacturers about their product and how it is more potent or more odor-free. But nothing is better than eating the fresh plant. All the elements of the mature garlic bulb are in the sprouts and baby garlic plants are even more concentrated.
The Sprouting Advantage. The young 14 day garlic/onion chive has all the food elements that make the bulb famous. In fact, at this early stage, the plant is manufacturing amino acids at a faster rate than at any other time in the plant’s growth. Because it needs to synthesize protein for building cells, it is bursting with vitamins. Vitamins require minerals and minerals require trace minerals and all of them require enzymes. This active living organism is concentrated with the kind of nutrition that supports fundamental cell growth. This “live” food has something the dried garlic bulb does not — chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is nature’s breath freshener. Companies spend thousands of dollars in laboratories trying to rid garlic of its essential aroma. But nature has its own solution and you only get it when you eat the whole green garlic plant. This is the sprout advantage.
Two Sprouter Technique. Because garlic and onion take two weeks to mature, you will see little growth for the first seven days. The first week is the hatching period and the best way to hatch seed is in a warm sprout bag. Most sprouting seeds like to germinate at 75 degrees. When winter makes this impossible, the soaking and first 48 hours of germination should be in a warm spot. The result is a sprout that grows faster, is heartier and has a greater percentage of germinating seed. This is especially beneficial for garlic and onion. If you have a warm spot, perhaps in or on top of your oven, hatch your seeds there. After the seed has burst and the shoots are 1/4-inch long, transplant them into the small 6 inch sprouter. It takes only 2 tablespoons of dry seed to make a lavish crop, making these seeds more economical than they appear. These natural antibiotics will purify your bloodstream, your liver, and fight germs and parasites. The odor lasts only minutes — not hours! Go garlic!
The China Red Pea
This common but unfamiliar legume is the American version of the Asian adzuki. It is also one of the best kept sprouting secrets. This bean, which is related to mung, is an excellent germinator and a versatile sprouter. It can be consumed just like mung or lentil, in Chinese style wok dishes, soups or salads. Like all beans, be sensitive to how much you can digest raw. It grows best in a sprout bag and matures in 4-5 days with a tail approximately one inch long. Unlike its cousin mung, it has no hard sees.
Now put away your sprout bag and take out your basket sprouter. We’re going to grow red pea greens. Treat this bean just like buckwheat or sunflower. Start with 5 tablespoons of peas in your large 9 inch sprouter. It takes approximately 10 days to develop 7 inch long stalks with big, beautiful green leaves. Although similar to buckwheat lettuce in appearance, it is richer in cellulose which will keep you chewing longer. Harvesting is simple. Just grab a small handful midway down the stalk and wiggle free. The roots are clean and white and should be eaten. Sprouts offer us the rare opportunity to enjoy a whole vegetable including its roots. Although their flavor is not as delicate as buckwheat or as hardy as sunflower, pea greens are bigger than the latter and easier to grow and harvest.
Fennel is a relative of dill and caraway, but unlike its cousins, it is a good germinator. It is a vertical growing seed that develops a delicate green shoot. Although they will also sprout in the sprout bag, a vertical sprouter provides the best growing environment for them.
Fennel is a slow-to-start seed with a harvest time of approximately 14 days. Unlike other sprouting seeds, there is no hull to fall off. Both seed and shoot can be eaten and enjoyed. And what flavor! Fennel is an aromatic herb that adds zest to any salad or grain dish. It can even be included in sprout bread. Fennel is easily digestible in the raw state and a small amount goes along way because of its rich flavor. Soak 3 tablespoons overnight and germinate in a 6 inch basket or a vertical sprouter for 10-14 days. Sprouts store in the refrigerator for approximately 1 week.